Salvador Fernandes Zarco, according to a theory developed by Manuel Luciano da Silva, M. D., is the Portuguese birth name of Christopher Columbus (October 30?, 1448 – 20 May 1506), the man widely credited with discovering the "New World" in 1492.
Although several documents state that Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, several facts suggest a different origin for the explorer. Out of many theories of his origin (none fully demonstrated) several state that Columbus may have been born Portuguese (rather than arrived in Portugal in his early teens). This theory is supported by a number of scholars, while far from being widely accepted even in the Academia due to lack of investigation and humility.
Salvador Fernandes Zarco Author Augusto Mascarenhas Barreto has done genealogical research that suggests Columbus' given name was Salvador Fernandes Zarco. Salvador's mother was Isabel Gonçalves Zarco, daughter of João Gonçalves Zarco, a Portuguese noble of the House of Prince Henry the Navigator. The surname Zarco was actually a nickname derived from the Arabic "zarka" meaning "one with blue eyes." His family may have been of converso origin. On the patrilineal side, Zarco was first cousin of King John II, the half-brother of Queen Dona Leonor and King Manuel I, and grandnephew of Prince Henry the Navigator. Joao Zarco discovered the island of Madeira, and the family held important mercantile concessions there. Zarco's Portuguese royal connections may also be reflected in his frequent use of Portuguese place-names in the New World ("Cuba" is a small town in Alentejo, Portugal, and the quite, peaceful village of Vila Ruiva is theorized to have been SFZ birthplace).
Barreto's theory strongly claims that Zarco had a secret mission to distract Spanish royalty away from the true route to India, which Prince Henry was navigating around the Cape of Good Hope. Also Manuel Luciano da Silva points out that Columbus was on several occasions offered private investments to go on his expedition, but he refused for seven years until he had full approval from the Spanish Crown. This, he claims, would have fit in with King John's master plans.
Papal bulls The origins of Da Silva's hypothesis were founded in 1988, when he read a book by Portuguese author Augusto Mascarenhas Barreto titled (in English) The Portuguese Christopher Columbus: Secret Agent of King John II.
In 1994, Da Silva traveled to the Vatican to look at papal bulls related to the discovery of the New World in the late 15th century. In two inscriptions dated May 4, 1493, there are articles regarding the discovery of the new world by one "Cristofõm Colon". The manuscripts, written by Pope Alexander VI, have Columbus' name written in the Portuguese style. This spelling is inconsistent with Columbus' name in other possible nationalities, such as Italian and Spanish. The Spanish spelling is Cristobal Colón and the Italian is Cristoforo Colombo. This discovery is notable because at the time the manuscript was written, the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope together held great secular authority and proclaimed what was considered the final word.
Columbus' sigla and monogram
Christopher Columbus always signed his documents with his sigla instead of his name. The ambiguity of symbols allows for many different theories regarding the deeper meanings and representations of each symbol. Mascarenhas Barreto deciphers the sigla to support his belief that Columbus was in fact Portuguese. At the bottom of the sigla he finds evidence of the name Salvador Fernandes Zarco hidden among the symbols. The top part of the sigla proclaims Columbus' religious ties, but the author believes Columbus would mix well-known information in with more secretive double meanings.
The conclusion that the bottom section of Columbus' sigla reveals his true identity, Salvador Fernandes Zarco, is based on interpretations of the language. is a Greek abbreviation for Christ(o), who is recognized in Christianity as the Savior of the world. "Salvador" is the Portuguese word for "savior". The sigla is thought to refer to a given name and not to Christ, because references to Christ were routinely capitalized . It is interesting that Zarco named his first New World landfall "San Salvador". While an outward expression of Christian piety, it was also his own given name, an arcane fact that would fit in well with the hidden meanings of the "sigla" and Columbus' habits toward self-aggrandizement. is, according to Da Silva, the abbreviation of the name Fernandes in Portuguese.
The S symbol is slightly skewed in the top right corner. This is believed to symbolize the inverted Hebrew letter, lamedh. Lamed in Hebrew means colon, which corresponds to Colon as Columbus' last name. By the rules of Hebrew alphabet, the Lamed as an inverted letter signifies that the Lamed looks like 'Colon' but is intended to be read with its other meaning. The skewed Lamed also stands for the name 'Zarco' in Hebrew, and that concludes how Columbus hides 'Salvador Fernandes Zarco' in his sigla.
The reality of Zarco/Columbus' Jewish roots, far from being mere idle speculation, are further bolstered by his frequent but obscure written references to the "royal blood of Jerusalem" in his veins, his well-documented sympathy for the Iberian Jews who, after 2000-plus years in "Sepharad" were expelled from Spain the day he set sail for "India" (his was a very politically incorrect attitude for his era, and potentially dangerous to him personally), his penchant for keeping company with Marranos, Conversos and Moors, and the fact that so many Jews held important offices on his expedition (Luis de Torres, who colonized Cuba, was his translator, and Master Marco was the expeditionary physician, amongst others).
In fact, Da Silva's wife, Silvia, an expert embroiderer, has noted that the monogram with which Columbus signed his documents—usually to the left of his sigla—can be split into three initials: S. F. Z., for Salvador Fernandes Zarco.